Premier’s Office fails to lead

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance is of the view that the Northern Cape Office of the Premier is failing to provide strategic leadership to provincial government departments. Instead of taking responsibility and listing in detail what corrective action his department would take against serial underperforming senior managers, the Director-General, Justice Bekebeke, chose to fudge the issue and shifted blame of unfavourable audit outcomes to varying AG interpretations.

In a presentation by the Office of the Premier to the legislature today the DG effectively failed to address the concerns raised by the Auditor-General that there is a “lack of consequences for non-performance”. When asked to list the details of whether any corrective measures would be taken against serial underperforming senior managers, the DG chose to be vague, not listing any action taken, and rather cited receiving regular reports on matters of fraud and mismanagement. The DA is of the view that this is not good enough.

According to the AG’s report of the 2011/2012 financial year, the Office of the Premier incurred over R4 million worth of irregular expenditure in the current financial year and over R4 million for prior years due to non-adherence to SCM regulations. However, no disciplinary action has been taken in response to any of the seven incidents that brought about this irregular expenditure. Instead, the DG attributes this situation to a difference in interpretation by the AG, in turn refusing to take responsibility. This does not set a good example for other departments. Provincial governance cannot be improved if there are no consequences for poor governance.

Provincial departments have regressed from four to seven qualified opinions, while wasteful and fruitless expenditure by departments has virtually doubled from R1,3 billion to R2,4 billion in the 2011/12 financial year. Against this backdrop, it is clear that the Office of the Premier, which although received an unqualified audit, is caught up on internal issues and fails to provide leadership to other provincial government departments.

It is unacceptable that the Office of the Premier continues to have an untenable situation of two premiers (one of whom is acting and the other whom is booked off sick), and that no decision has been taken as to who will fill the position permanently. This again points to a lack of leadership and adversely affects service delivery to the people of the Northern Cape.

Until the leadership issues within the premier’s office are resolved, little can be expected from the Northern Cape government. At the same time, it is the DA’s submission that until we, as a political party, take over this administration and in turn head up the Premier’s Office, we will not achieve successes similar to those in the DA-run province of the Western Cape.

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